In the booming era of electronic and code driven technology, as well as expanding internet access across the world; there are countless opportunities to make a difference and a good salary or side income while you’re at it being a programmer and software developer.
If you already have a full time job you can use many of the below suggestions as a way to build a side hustle and further grow your skills like I am doing.
In this article I’ll go over 11 of the best ways to make money online from home as a programmer or software developer so you can set goals with the end in mind. Setting and recording your goals in this way will help empower you to finish them faster as well!
I’ll also rate the difficulty each project has, the time investment required to start seeing a turning around, and the success factor it has in terms of likely hood to succeed and return on investment. Note these ratings are based on my personal opinion and mostly based on my own experience in tech.
Get a computer science degree and job remotely
Get a computer science degree career path may not be ideal for everyone given the time and cost but it is the most structured way to learn programming in a traditional educational environment. It is also the way I was able to achieve an over 6 figure salary, drastically improve my life, and help give back to my family so this is always one of the first things I recommend if people aren’t sure where to start.
Universities are also able to connect you with tech companies that often have starting salaries of on average $80,000 in the united states and over six figures if you make it into a FANG company.
Because of COVID’s impact on jobs around the globe, many university degrees can be obtained completely online. Also tech companies are becoming more open to remote jobs giving you similar flexibility in where you work to what you would find with the other options below.
Difficulty: 6/10, as long as you can finish the course work this is easier than doing it alone
Success Factor: 8/10, With hard work and a CS Degree most people will achieve a successful career
Make a useful web application
If you have a good idea for a web application such as Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo Fantasy Sports, or anything else that gives users the ability to interact with the website and it would provide value in the world then why not make it!
The secret to making a great web app is it should not reinvent the wheel and instead should give a new innovative way of doing something. Ideally you want to simplify something for your customers and have them refer your application to their friends as generating users out of thin air is very difficult.
Your app should have a unique idea and then you can create a proof of concept by yourself to pitch your prototype to investors and potentially get a team of people to help you make it big!
Remember though this is the dream of many programmers everywhere and is very challenging to complete. For every one Facebook there is hundreds of MySpaces.
Common ways you can make money from a web app is either through ads or subscriptions. Once you have enough users you can also sell data on trends. If the site is a home-run you may also be able to sell the web application like Elon Musk did with Venmo.
If you want to learn how to make a quick Python based web application take a look at our mini Flask tutorial.
Success Factor: 2 or 10/10 , depends on viability of your web application and ability to get customers
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Create a hit mobile application
This is very similar to starting a web application in terms of getting a good idea and releasing it to the world. You can also program a shared back end where users can interact with the main application either through mobile or web but this requires the extra work to set all that up and would be really difficult for a single person.
You can however make small Unity based games that can deploy across Android and iOS and start earning money from those by yourself through ads, micro-transactions, or by selling access to your mobile application for a few dollars.
There are also a lot of opportunities to make productivity based apps by yourself or with a few people that could scale into a much larger business over time.
You can learn more about mobile app development here.
Success Factor: 6/10 , I’m rating this a 6 but only because most starter mobile apps may only make 10-100 dollars in their first year but can grow over time.
Sell your own programming courses online
If you consider yourself a strong programmer and enjoy teaching others than why not put those skills to use by recording what you know and sharing it with the flood of new programmers coming into the market every year. This is a great way to build passive income streams as well since once the initial work to make the course people will be able to take it indefinitely as long as the information is still relevant.
After creating your course you can sell it on any of the platforms below but they will take a commission for handling hosting it and gathering payments from your students:
- Pluralsite – requires an invite
With a wide breadth of knowledge such as John Sonmez from Simple Programmer you can even create enough courses to make a six figure passive income over several years of hard work.
Having a strong base skill-set and personal brand will also significantly impact how successful your courses are.
Time: 5/10, if you have the skills you can make a course in a 2-6 weeks
Success Factor: 5/10, lots of competition in this market between other courses and free on YouTube. Need to come up with a good original course that’s taught in a way to reach your customers.
Be a freelance developer and list programming gigs on Fiverr or Upwork
Thanks to Fiverr and UpWork anyone can be a dedicated freelancer or moonlighter working on programming side hustles. You can even list freelancing services for being a blog writer, video games coach, or writing fortune cookies.
Simply go to one of the above platforms or search for others and create a platform to start listing gigs. Then just wait for the clients to come to you looking for your services.
This is another area where having a strong personal brand and prior reputation will give you better success. Remember to stay patient as you are building a client base and portfolio of projects.
Time: 4/10, It doesn’t take long to sign up and list your gigs.
Success Factor: 4/10, Getting clients and gig sign ups can be slow initially but success can scale quickly over time.
Be a programming tutor
Similar to selling a course if you have programming skills and you like to teach you can directly tutor others. While creating a programming course requires up front time with no money to generate future income passively; being a tutor you can start earning quickly based on your knowledge by trading active time.
If I were start being a tutor I would list an ad in craigslist, post a tutor gig on Fiverr, or ask the local colleges and high schools with computer science classes to post that you are available to tutor with background on why someone should want to learn from you.
I haven’t really tried this so my ranking are pure speculation:
Success Factor: 6/10 , Some tutors can get paid 50-100$ hr if they are in the right areas and have wealthy clients that are eager to learn from you given your personal brand.
Make a WordPress plugin
Given the popularity of WordPress, this can be a simple way to start generating passive income. All you need is to learn what plugins are currently out there, how they can be improved on, and then learning how to make the plugin and listing it.
I haven’t done this personally but one of my co-workers has made a few plugins that earns her 50-100$ a month passively. If you make even more plugins that have a higher demand this can scale up as much as you put into it.
Success Factor: 2/10, Slow going in terms of income per plugin and really need a lot and popular plugins to turn this into a career. Still seems fun to learn.
Start your own cryptocurrency
Do I expect anyone to actually do this? No. However it could be a cool way to earn money if someone actually does and they find a way to make it profitable. I think this requires a lot of initial hardware resources to make viable but theoretically it could be done.
Difficulty: 8/10, Just need A LOT of hardware and expertise
Success Factor: 7/10, There’s already a lot of digital coins out there but this could be a really cool hobby project that might surprisingly turn into the next Etherium or bitcoin.
Comment below if you try this!
Become a sponsored coder
Did you know you can make money by contributing code to open source projects now? Until recently neither did I, but now GitHub provides you the ability to add a sponsor button on your page to get donations from people for you to actively keep contributing to projects similar to how Patreon works for general content creators. Oh yea, you can also get sponsors through Patreon as well.
I imagine if you are a popular game mod maker such as people that make Minecraft mods then you can create content about your mod and the creative process of making it, and ask the people interested in your mod to sponsor you on GitHub or Patreon.
Win coding contests
For those people out there that love algorithms and data structures and showing off how quickly they can solve coding problems with their skills apparently there are websites out there that actually give monetary prizes to people for their coding contests such as on TopCoder.
I’ve heard that people that do really well in these on a consistent basis have also been offered positions from companies such as Google and Facebook on the spot as an alternative way to get into these companies without a pure computer science degree.
I actually will be trying to see if I can do this in the future. Subscribe to the BeAPython.dev youtube channel as I give updates on that journey and work through coding problems.
Difficulty: 10/10, Being a top coder in a timed environment is very difficult
Time: 8/10, Learning all the algorithms and data structures and when to apply them for such problems takes a lot of practice
Success: 6/10, It would be hard to make a career out of just solving coding problems but if you get an offer from FANG because of your coding hobby then this easily turns into a 10/10 for success
Make automation applications
Today there are loads of people out there wanting to simplify how they do financial analysis, find keywords for their web pages, or even find interesting content in their niche to come up with ideas for their own.
A lot of these problems can be solved through automation programming and even using machine learning. So for those coders out there that have the ability to recognize common business problems facing people and they have the ability to make a marketable application to sell to them as customers than this can be a great way to make money programming online by selling the application.
Example automation applications:
- Twitter or Instagram Bots
- Stock trading bot – Risky as hell but can be done
- SEO App
- Web application template engine
- Business report generator
- Sports match-up analyzers
Success: 8/10 , The above apps all have the ability to turn into their own businesses as they scale over time with a lot of earnings potential
Start a programming related YouTube channel
Gone are the days of wanting to a Police Man, Astronaut, or even Doctor. Kids these days all want to be You-Tubers when they see how some of these people get to live their lives doing exactly what they want and making tons of money doing it.
While it’s not likely you’ll become the next big YouTuber if you have good programming skills and ability to entertain then overtime you can grow a YouTube channel that has the ability to earn you Ad revenue once you reach 1000 subscribers and 4000 public watch hours.
Achieving partner does require consistent posting of quality programming videos and I’m still way off of doing this myself on the BeAPython.dev youtube channel.
Difficulty: 9/10, It seems easy but there is a lot of competition
Time: 7/10, Building an audience in a small niche can take years
Success: 5/10, Most partners only make around 100$ USD a month but if you put a lot of time into mastering making entertaining content then this can grow exponentially.
Thanks for taking the time to read through these 11 ways to make money programming from home. Please let me know in the comments below if you’ve tried any of these ideas yourself or are going to try any of them! Also let me know if you think any of my ranking are way off and we can talk about them.
About Stefan Bradstreet
Stefan is a software development engineer II at Amazon with 5+ years of experience in tech. He is passionate about helping people become better coders and climbing the ranks in their careers as well as his own through continued learning of leadership techniques and software best practices.
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